Wallace Stegner’s mother died at the age of fifty. When Wallace was eighty, he finally wrote her a note—“Letter, Much Too Late”—in which he praised the virtues of a woman who grew up, married, and raised two sons in the harshness of the early Western United States. She was the kind of wife and mother who was an encourager, even to those that were less than desirable. Wallace remembered the strength his mother displayed by way of her voice. Stegner wrote: “You never lost an opportunity to sing.” As long as she lived, Stegner’s mother sang, grateful for blessings large and small.
The psalmist too took opportunities to sing. He sang when the days were good, and when they weren’t so good. The songs were not forced or coerced, but a natural response to the “Maker of heaven and earth” (146:6) and how He “gives food to the hungry” (v. 7) and “gives sight to the blind” (v. 8) and “sustains the fatherless and the widow” (v. 9). This is really a lifestyle of singing, one that builds strength over time as daily trust is placed in “the God of Jacob” who “remains faithful forever” (vv. 5–6).
The quality of our voices isn’t the point, but our response to God’s sustaining goodness—a lifestyle of praise. As the old hymn puts it: “There’s within my heart a melody.”
Psalm 146 doesn’t include a superscription, which means we don’t have information about the author’s identity or the circumstances surrounding the song’s composition. What we do know, however, is how Psalm 146 was viewed by the religious community. While many scholars believe Psalm 1 was intentionally written to open the book of Psalms, Psalms 145–150 were praise songs selected to close the Hebrew hymnal. This closing flourish of praise has been called by one writer “the endless hallelujah.” The Bible Knowledge Commentary agrees, stating that these songs are “the grand doxology of the entire collection, for praise plays a greater part of Psalms 145–150 than in most of the others. The word ‘praise’ occurs 46 times in these six psalms.”